Daphniphyllum macropodum subsp. humile
Common Name: daphniphyllum
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Daphniphyllaceae
Native Range: Japan
Zone: 7 to 9
Height: 2.00 to 5.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 5.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: Purple-pink (male) and pale green (female)
Sun: Part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Hedge
Flower: Insignificant
Leaf: Evergreen
Fruit: Showy
Other: Winter Interest

Culture

Winter hardy to USDA Zones 7-9 where it is best grown in moist, rich, sandy-humusy, slightly acidic, well-drained soils in part shade. May survive winters in Zone 6 if sited in a protected location and mulched in winter. Soils should be kept uniformly moist, particularly when this shrub is grown in close to full sun locations where leaf scorch becomes a potential problem. Plants are dioecious (male and female flowers are borne on separate shrubs). Female flowers will need a nearby male pollinator in order to produce fruit. Propagate from seed.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Daphniphyllum macropodum is a rounded understory broadleaf evergreen shrub or small tree that is most noted for its bold, attractive, rhododendron-like foliage. It has no generally accepted common name. It is native to forested areas in Japan, Korea and China. It typically grows to 15-25’ tall in cultivation, but reportedly to as much as 45’ tall in the wild in its native habitat.

Long-stalked, leathery, oblong to oblanceolate leaves (5-10” long by 1-3” wide) with showy purplish red petioles are arranged in closely-spaced spirals at the stem ends in a configuration somewhat resembling the leaves found on some rhododendrons. Leaves have cuneate bases and are glossy deep green above and a glaucous light green below. New growth leaves emerge flushed with pink. Non-showy apetulous flowers in axillary racemes bloom from the leaf axils in May-June on the growth from the prior year. Male flowers are purple-pink and female flowers are pale green. Male plants will not produce fruit. Pollenized female flowers give way to ellipsoidal blue-black drupes (to 1/3” long).

Genus name comes from the unrelated genus Daphne and the Greek word phylum meaning leaf in reference to the similarity of foliage between the within genus and some daphnes.

Specific epithet comes from the Latin word macro meaning large and Greek word phyllon meaning leaf.

Subsp. humile is a smaller dwarf version of the species. It typically grows to only 2-3’ (less frequently to 5’) tall and as wide with leaves extending to 2-5” long by 3/4” to 2” wide. Flowering racemes are also smaller than those of the species.

Subspecies name comes from the Latin word humilis meaning dwarf or low-growing, in reference to this subspecies being a much smaller version of the species.

There has been some nomenclature confusion regarding the proper botanical designation for this subspecies. Experts now designate this plant in a number of different ways including D. macropodum, D. macropodum var. humile, D. macropodum subsp. humile or D. humile.

Problems

No known serious insect or disease problems. Leaf scorch may occur in full sun.

Garden Uses

Rounded evergreen shrub for borders and foundations. Specimen or small groups (must be planted in groups if fruit and viable seed are desired). Informal hedge.